Female faculty members' numbers grow

UT Southwestern has a constantly improving record in recruiting and retaining outstanding women scientists and physicians, Dr. Ellen Vitetta said at an Oct. 26 symposium aimed at teaching women faculty members about promotion and tenure. 

"Symposiums such as this are critical in educating young faculty about the institution's expectations for granting promotion and tenure. Defining priorities and focusing on goals are essential to succeed, as are both excellent guidance and mentoring," said Dr. Vitetta, director of the Cancer Immunobiology Center and former chair of the Women in Science and Medicine Advisory Committee (WISMAC) at UT Southwestern.

"The university is making strides to recruit outstanding women, and programs such as this will ensure their retention and success," said Dr. Vitetta, who also holds the Scheryle Simmons Patigian Distinguished Chair in Cancer Immunobiology.

More than 100 faculty members attended the second symposium on promotion, tenure and career development hosted by WISMAC.

"This year's symposium provided faculty with insights on how to focus a career to succeed and how to be rewarded under pressure from numerous activities such as teaching, research, caring for patients, administration, serving on committees and family life. I view it as group mentoring to supplement more personal mentoring that occurs unevenly among our faculty," said Dr. Susanne Mumby, co-chair of WISMAC along with Dr. Carole Mendelson. Dr. Mumby is an associate professor of pharmacology and Dr. Mendelson a professor of biochemistry.

Dr. Cynthia Rutherford, professor of internal medicine and member of WISMAC, chaired the session.

"We realized there were many women, not just new faculty, who still did not fully understand the promotion and tenure process," Dr. Rutherford said. "Clearly it was time to discuss this process again, and at the same time look at the issues specific to women as they work towards higher academic rank and to build successful careers."

Dr. Alfred Gilman, interim dean of Southwestern Medical School, chair of pharmacology and director of the Cecil H. and Ida Green Comprehensive Center for Molecular, Computational and Systems Biology, talked about findings of the Task Force on Recruitment and Retention of Female Faculty. He summarized changes that have been instituted since the task force made its recommendations in 2002.

"There has been a great opportunity for members of the administration to understand the issues of specific concern to women and, thereby, to do a better job of attracting the most qualified faculty on every track," said Dr. Gilman, who also holds the Nadine and Tom Craddick Distinguished Chair in Medical Science, the Raymond Willie and Ellen Willie Distinguished Chair in Molecular Neuropharmacology, in honor of Harold B. Crasilneck, Ph.D., and the Atticus James Gill, M.D., Chair in Medical Science.

Other speakers included Dr. Burton Combes, chair of the Faculty Promotions and Tenure Committee; Dr. Karen Kowalske, chair and associate professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation; Dr. Charles Ginsburg, associate dean for faculty development; and Dr. Susan Cox, assistant dean for professional education.

More information about WISMAC and its programs can be found on its Web site, and a videotape of the promotion and tenure symposium is available at the campus libraries.